Frozen Grapes

It’s Tuesday! And not just any Tuesday: it’s the Tuesday after my first full week back at work. I somehow survived being away from my angel for 5 straight days. One week down…

I’ve been taking things one day at a time, and so far it’s been working out pretty well. Now that I don’t get to spend everyday at home, I appreciate the time I do get to be home more than ever. And since summer is here (yay!), we have been taking advantage of our evenings and weekends by spending as much time as we can outside. We are having so much fun, and our sweet baby l-o-v-e-s being outside. It’s wonderful!

However…. there is something about this warmer weather that makes me VERY aware of the baby weight I’m still holding onto. It’s probably the tank tops, shorts and bathing suits I’m going to have to put on at some point…oy. Losing weight is hard, and it definitely starts with nutrition. For me, snacking is definitely my Achilles heel when it comes to eating, so I have been looking for satisfying and healthy snacks to include in my day. I saw a recipe for frozen grapes that I wanted to try, and the next day I got a coupon for free grapes at Earthfare. Serendipity! Don’t you love it when that happens? :)

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These are so refreshing and healthy – plus, they are SO easy to make! All you need is some grapes, some yogurt (hardly any at all) and your “toppings”. Put the toppings in separate bowls, set aside. Stick a toothpick in a grape, dip it a little further than halfway down into the yogurt and twirl around a little. You just want to make sure the grape is coated well with the yogurt. Dip the grape into one of the toppings, and place on a freezer safe dish. Repeat until you’ve made the desired amount of grapes. Stick in the freezer for at least an hour and a half. It’s that easy! And at only 52 calories for 10 grapes, you can’t go wrong!

I used vanilla yogurt and chia seeds and coconut as my toppings. Mix it up and try different yogurt flavors and toppings! You can really make them with whatever you have. Enjoy – and stay cool!

 

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Summer Reading List

This week has been a rough one. After 15 wonderful weeks with my little man, I had to go back to work. There were lots of tears, but I made it through. Now as I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on this beautiful Saturday morning, I find myself thinking about the new “normal” in our house. It’s exciting but stressful to think about how different things will be now that J is here. As much as I’m looking forward to our first summer together as a family, I know I’ll need some “me” time. And one of my favorite ways to get away is through a good book. Read on for the books I plan to read this summer!

1. Country Music Broke My Brain by Gerry House.

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This is sort of cheating, since I’m almost done with this book. But I need to get a little help wherever I can – so this counts! :) This is a non-fiction book, so up next is a fiction…and hopefully a book I enjoy more.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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3. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

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Love these guys.

4. The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding.

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This is the second book in the Bridget Jones’s Diary series. The first one was great – can’t wait to read the second one.

5. Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

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6. About a Boy by Nick Hornby.

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I read Hornby’s A Long Way Down and loved it. I heard a movie is being made for that book, so I thought I’d read another of Hornby’s. And I’m pretty sure there’s a movie about this one too…

7. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

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Do you see a pattern here? This is their newest book. I’m very much looking forward to reading this. Some of the book’s content was already on their podcast, and it’s great.

8. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

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I got this at a garage sale a few weeks ago for $0.50. Score.

9. Monkey Mind by Daniel B. Smith.

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A memoir about a man with severe anxiety. I heard it was actually pretty funny.

10. Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

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What’s on your summer reading list?

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Weekend Recap

Today is June 1….WHAT?! I can’t believe 2014 is almost half over.

We spent the last day of May at the 2014 Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. This was the second year Akron hosted the event, and my first year playing in the game. Last year, I cheered on Katie. It looked like so much fun, I decided to play this year.

And it was a great time! Unfortunately, the Brunettes’ winning streak was ended this year: the Blondes won 18-14 on a touchdown in the last minute of the game. But I still had a good time (and 2 interceptions!).

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Me and Katie – co-caption of Team Brunette

After the game, I did as little activity as possible. Holy sore muscles! I’m still feeling it today, which reminds me how badly I need to get back into shape!

As happy as I am that we raised over $8,000 (!!!) towards the end of Alzheimer’s, the highlight of my day was getting this gift from Katie:

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And inside the envelope was…

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HECK YES I WILL BE!

I’m honored that she asked me and so excited to help her plan her wedding! Check out the amazing gift she got me:

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Unreal. She’s so good at this stuff – I always tell her she should do it for a living. The basket is in the theme of her wedding colors (mint and pink) and the destination – HAWAII!

I’m over the moon happy that Katie has found the love of her life. She certainly deserves to be with someone as wonderful as she is! I’m so blessed that I get to be a part of the beginning of their new life together. Cheers to Fall 2015 and the soon-to-be Mr. & Mrs.! <3

Since Ryan is working, today has been a Mommy/Baby day. We did a little shopping with my mom and nephew, then headed to a birthday party for the son of one of my high school besties, Katielynn. Her son is an absolute doll – and 100% boy! He’s hilarious to be around, if you can catch him! He’s way to busy to chat with his mom’s friends. :)

The baby is napping, I have some chili simmering and a glass of wine is calling my name. Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

 

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Friday Favorites – Wedding Pictures

In about an hour, I will be leaving to drop off my baby boy at the sitter’s house for our “practice” day. I set this up so he would get used to being at the sitter’s instead of with me all day…but now that the day is here, I’m pretty sure this practice day is more for me than for him. Tear.

So to distract myself, I looked up something that always makes me happy: wedding pictures. I’ve really got weddings on the brain right now: We went to my cousin-in-law’s wedding this past weekend, one of my favorite people in the whole world is getting married in Chicago at the end of June, and my dearest friend Katie just got engaged last week!! Wedding excitement all around!

With all the weddings going on for my loved ones – and all others out there – I wanted  to post my favorite wedding pictures. These are from Pinterest (of course) and include couple shots as well as group ones. Because weddings just aren’t about two people coming together; it’s about two lives coming together – and all the lovely, wonderful, crazy folks you hold dear.

I love the bride’s smile in this one – so happy! And candid photos are truly my favorite.

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The toasts are often one of the highlights of the reception for the bride and groom. Be sure your photographer gets an action shot or two! Do you recognize the bridge and groom in this pic? :)

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This is hilarious! I wish we would have thought to do this with our groomsmen.

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Beautiful. Again, love those candids.

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I didn’t have a dog when I got married, but if I did, this would be a requirement!

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How precious is this? The emotion on the dad’s face pulls at my heartstrings.

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The smiles. The sparklers. Magical.

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You must take a fun pictures with your bridesmaids at least once during the day. You MUST!

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However, no  matter what you do, please don’t involve firearms in your wedding pictures. Don’t. Just don’t.

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I mean, really? Nothing says love like rifles (that’s what those are, right?).

Happy wedding season, friends!

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National Hamburger Day

Happy National Hamburger Day! When it comes to burgers, I am a super fan. So it’s good luck that I live in Akron, home of the National Hamburger Festival and Swensons, the restaurant with the best burgers in Ohio (I would argue it’s actually The Rail, but Swesons is a local legend, so I’ll let it go).

In honor of the day celebrating one of my favorite foods, here are 10 ways I love to “fancy up” my hamburger.

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1. Classic. No need to add anything crazy. Just lettuce, tomato and onion will do.

2. Italian. I got this idea from my mom. Add some basil and oregano to the burger patty. Top with fresh sliced mozzarella, a few baby spinach leaves and some marinara sauce. Bravo!

3. BBQ. There isn’t much that I enjoy more than the combination of sharp cheddar cheese and sweet BBQ sauce. Add crispy fried onions as well and you’ve got yourself a little piece of burger heaven.

4. Mexican. Top the burger with sliced avocado, salsa and queso cheese. If you like crunch, you can also add some tortilla chips to the burger. This is my husband’s favorite thing to do!

5. Breakfast-y. Add an egg, a few pieces of bacon and some avocado slices to your burger. For me, the runnier the egg yolk the better.

6. Fries on the side. Way back when, on a family visit to Pittsburgh, I tried a sandwich with the fries in the sandwich, instead of on the side. There was cool, creamy coleslaw on top as well. Oh man, it was divine. Take a hint from Primanti Bros. Restaurant and pile the fries and coleslaw on a burger. Just don’t become a Steelers fan in the process.

7. Buffalo. Mix some Frank’s Red Hot sauce with blue cheese dressing and put a generous amount on the burger. Add lettuce and crumbled blue cheese and enjoy!

8. Spicy. I was OBSESSED with jalapeno when I was pregnant. Like, I had to have them on everything. I really enjoy them on burgers chopped up and mixed with cream cheese. Spread a generous amount on the bun, add some bacon and prepare to swoon.

9. Mediterranean. What could possibly be as good as a burger topped with hummus, sprouts, feta cheese and sliced cucumbers? Well, if your taste is like mine, not much.

10. Chili cheese. Add a scoop (or two) of chili to your burger and top with shredded cheddar cheese. With some diced red onions on top, it’s perfect!

 

How do you like your hamburger? 

 

Hope everyone has a great National Hamburger Day!

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Taking Stock

How was everyone’s Memorial Day weekend? We spent the entire weekend surrounded by family and friends. It was perfect!

I saw this on another blog over the weekend and loved the idea. What a great way to “take stock” of what is going on in our lives right now. No frills, just us.

Making: Nothing right now, but I hope to start this little project soon!

Cooking: Anything on the grill! Ryan is a master griller, so we have been taking full advantage of the sun and warmer weather.

Drinking: Coffee, coffee and more coffee. The little guy isn’t quite sleeping through the night yet, so java keeps me going through the day. I can’t wait to have a glass of the Sophie that Ryan got for us. It’s Goose Island’s “fancy” beer – and one of our favorites.

Reading: I just finished Life of Pi. Great book – loved it. I’ve decided to alternate between fiction and non-fiction this year, so I’m now reading Country Music Broke My Brain as my non-fiction book. So far it’s…eh.

Wanting: Time to STOP. I go back to work next Wednesday, and it seems like time has flown by the past couple of weeks. I can’t believe I won’t get to spend all day everyday with my little guy anymore. :(

Looking: For a name for a blog my sister and I want to start. My creative juices really need to start flowing…

Playing: Not sure if this means games, sports or music…so I’m going with music. I’m playing country, of course! I love Florida Georgia Line’s newest song, This Is How We Roll.

Wasting: Time. But like my boy Brad Paisley once said, it’s “time well wasted”: taking naps with all my boys, hanging out outside, sitting around talking with J.

Sewing: Haha, seriously? I’m sewing nothing. Ever. Sorry, Mom.

Wishing: I could follow my passions and find someway to make money doing so.

Enjoying: My son. Now that he’s more interactive, he’s a bundle of fun!

Waiting: For the night when J sleeps 8+ hours! We’re working on it…

Liking: The slight tan I got over the holiday weekend. I always feel better with a little bit of glow!

Wondering: How I will ever balance my work, family and social lives…

Loving: Summer. And everything that comes with it!

Hoping: My poor puppy’s tail feels better. We think Gunner strained his tail over the weekend while swimming. For everyone who knows Gunner and how much that dog wags his tail, you know how much this has to hurt him. Breaks my heart :(

Gunner and Sarge swimming

Gunner and Sarge swimming

Marveling: At all the things my sweet baby does everyday.

Needing: A coffee date with my lovely (and newly engaged!!) best friend Katie. Tomorrow morning can’t come soon enough!

Smelling: Charcoal. Love it!

Wearing: My favorite maxi dress and sandals.

Following: Cooking blogs. I have the itch to cook lately, especially meals I can freeze.

Noticing: That people have no boundaries when it comes to parenting advice. Complete strangers love to give me their two cents on child rearing. Just nod and smile. :)

Knowing: That I’m doing my best. And that’s going to have to be good enough.

Thinking: Of gift ideas. We have a ton of summer birthdays coming up!

Feeling: Stressed. Big changes coming next week.

Bookmarking: Sleep schedules for babies according to their age. And summer cocktail recipes.

Opening: Our back door about 1,000 times a day. Our dogs cannot get enough of the sunshine!

Giggling: Along with J. Loving his little laugh!

 

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Road Warrior Safety

I’ve recently discovered Freakonomics, and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love. I have really enjoyed all of the books, and I listen to the podcasts while walking with J. The authors definitely make me look at the world in a different way.

One of the podcasts I listened to lately was about motor vehicle accidents involving the death of pedestrians. Data from 2012 show that there about 4,500 pedestrian deaths in the US annually. That’s a huge number, and far too big.

When I heard that, my mind quickly went to my friends and family who love to run, walk and bike this time of year. After long Northeast Ohio winters, we can’t wait to put on our sneakers and hit the pavement. But it’s the reality that we share the road with vehicles – lots of them. I’ve had some closer-than-I’d-like experiences with cars while biking, running and walking, so I wanted to share safety tips for all users of our roadways – whether you’re in a car or not.

Safety Tips for Runners and Walkers

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- I hate this one, but it is recommended that you do not wear headphones, especially if you’re going to be running or walking on the road.

- Remember to run/walk against traffic, so you can see what is coming. Never run down the middle of the road.

- Carry your ID and a cell phone. I love these Road ID bracelets. You never know what could happen, and in case of an emergency, having your ID information could be life-saving.

- Stop at stop signs to ensure traffic yields to you. Never assume cars will stop for you, even if you are in a cross walk.

- If you’re running at night or early in the morning, be sure to wear bright, reflective clothing. Avoid head-to-toe dark clothing.

- Running with a friend or group is great and can be very motivating, but be courteous – and safe: don’t run more than two abreast.

Safety Tips for Bikers

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Keep in mind: Bicyclist on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as car drivers. They are also subject to the same state laws and local ordinances.

- Ride with traffic, not against it.

- Obey all stop signs, yield signs and traffic lights.

- Use hand signals for turns. This alerts drivers of your directional intention and helps keep you safe – and it’s the law.

- Don’t weave in and out of parked cars, even if they are in the way. Motorists may not see you when you try to move back into the flow of traffic.

- When riding at night or early in the morning, be sure your bike has good lights. Front light, wheel and pedal reflectors are a good idea – and often required by law. A rear red light wouldn’t hurt either. Again, as with running and walking, wear light-colored and/or reflective clothing.

- Always ride in a single-file line.

- And of course, always wear a helmet!

 

 

Be safe out there, friends!

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